Must see: Otello, Grand Theatre, Leeds

Swept away by an elemental and electrifying experience

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The Independent Culture

By the time Verdi was writing this opera, in his early seventies, he had dispensed with preludes, and this greatest of tragic operas opens with a cataclysmic orchestral explosion.

In Tim Albery's intelligent production for Opera North and Scottish Opera, the electrifying moment is not missed and we are swept into the sea-storm from which Otello emerges. The tenor Ronald Samm handles this demanding entrance with authority, and he has the vocal resources to sustain a taxing part.

The action is set in a US naval base in the 1950s, or possibly the British military occupation of Cyprus. It works well. David Kempster is clever, clear and commanding as an older-than-usual Iago, while Elena Kelessidi grows into the part of Desdemona.

Orchestra and chorus, under the dynamic direction of Richard Farnes, are on superb form. This is an overwhelming Otello: no Verdi lover will want to miss it.

(0844 848 2700); then touring ( in rep to 16 Feb